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Hægar (n6+), Hægefjell

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At 7am I was slightly worried about our decision to wait until Sunday in order to climb Hægar, which was the planned main event for the weekend. I lay in my tent listening to the strong gusts of wind shake the trees regularly. Strong winds and slab climbing are far from being my favourite combination, particularly when the wind is across the face. However, a quick check of the wind direction raised my optimism that the ridge curving to the east of the main face would block it to some degree. Once we were off the initial slab pitches and into the corner system hopefully we would get further shelter.

Hægar is a route that has been on my wish list for a number of years, but only in more recent times has it found its way towards the top. That's partly because I'm generally climbing better (when not injured), meaning the difficulties have become manageable, and also partly because I'm not getting any younger. Waiting until I become an even better climber, or more to point when …

Gone with the Weed (n6-), Hægefjell

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Anna and me tried to climb Gone with the Weed a couple of years ago. I was still getting over my chronic fatigue on that occasion and it had seemed an ideal stepping stone due to its long-ish length, short approach, and easy descent via abseil. It actually proved to be Anna's sore feet that was our undoing and brought about a descent after just two pitches. Big toe pain from too much friction-type climbing on moderate angled slabs to be precise. Gone with the Weed had also been the plan A when I climbed the neighbouring route called Reven a year prior, but on that occasion the route was still wet from snow melt. All in all the route could be described as a little elusive for me, although it had largely dropped off my radar in recent years.


At least we had managed some single pitch cragging en route to and from Hægefjell during the first attempt. Anna's conclusion was that if she were ever to return to Hægefjell then it was best done in a group of three, so that she could more …

Pakistan Debrief: What worked and what didn't

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My one month trip to the Karakoram during summer 2015 could loosely be regarded as a success in that we climbed three small summits, two of which were first ascents. We had planned bigger objectives prior to the trip and we also fell short in this respect. The trip as a whole was far from being problem free and all too easily it could have been a disaster. There were lots of factors involved so I thought it was worth writing about some of the problems we experienced as well as things that worked well. As much as a reminder to myself for future trips. The original trip report is here for anybody interested.


Porters

Lack of porters at the trail head in Passu was our first problem, which I had not anticipated away from the Baltoro region. It has been ten years since I last hired porters in Pakistan and maybe the numbers have dropped off because of the lack of visitors. Maybe we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A local cricket match apparently depleted availability but I…

Den republikanske terroristen (n5+), Skogshorn

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Our first attempt to climb Den republikanske terroristen didn't get further than the top of the second pitch. There was far too much wind together with strong gusts, which only increased with height. The wind was coming from a WSW Direction from which there was little shelter on our south face. Despite the twenty degree temperature, and adders basking on the slopes beneath Skogshorn, I still needed three layers in order to keep warm.

I led the first pitch, which weaved around initially before popping out on easy angled broken slabs. Normally I would scamper easily up this sort of slabby terrain, primarily using my feet with my hands merely an accessory, however the high winds caused me to over-grip and climb in a slower, static fashion. Often I needed to wait for the winds to drop before making the simplest of moves.

I was fully expecting Anna to suggest that we bail at the top of the first pitch and I was more resigned to agree. Smaller climbers definitely have a bigger say in …

The Heroes Bumblers of Telemark

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Winter conditions looked to be holding in Rjukan for another weekend and I was keen to capitalise. Anna's psych for more ice this season I sensed was starting to wane, but a combination of cross-country skiing and climbing I hoped would reinvigorate her. Gaustatoppen looked still to be well below freezing and, given this was the scene of my final act in December 2015 before I was struck down with long-term fatigue, it seemed fitting to make a return. After missing out on the whole of the preceding winter I was keen to drag this one out as long as I could manage.

I should quickly point out that I'm a pretty poor skier. This wasn't helped by me forgetting to pack my skins, partly because everything that I had done prior to this was in groomed tracks. At least I was able to purchase some wax at the Gaustablikk resort without too much delay. The approach was far from the idyllic skiing that I had envisaged. Often the way was too narrow to herring bone, meaning my 210cm skis q…

Tøftfossen (WI4), Drivdalen

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Despite seven days climbing in Oppdal I still hadn't climbed the classic Tøftfossen. I had planned to climb it with Anna two years ago but the cornice at the top of the route had looked massive from the valley and so we aborted a short way into the approach. On this occasion the problematic cornice was reportedly passable and with a perfect forecast the day looked ideally suited to something a little more alpine in character. Plus with Rick having travelled all the way from the UK we needed to justify the journey time with a big classic.

The only thing not ideally suited was the avalanche forecast. Or at least the avalanche forecast that I was reading. Troms warned of windslab but this was of course is not the correct fylke for Oppdal. Fortunately rational thinking trumped my poor geography and thus we went to take a closer look. After all everything in the recent weather pattern suggested snow consolidation. No wind, no snow, freeze/thaw temperatures, and plenty of sunshine. It w…